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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Citroen Abu Dhabi's Craig Breen remains confident of WRC success despite 'gutting' Rally Turkey setback

The Irish driver is back behind the wheel at Rally Great Britain after missing out on a maiden WRC win in September 

Craig Breen willl be hoping for better fortune at Rally Britain after a fire cost him a chance of victory in Turkey in September. Getty Images
Craig Breen willl be hoping for better fortune at Rally Britain after a fire cost him a chance of victory in Turkey in September. Getty Images

Craig Breen admitted that losing out on victory in Turkey in September had left him "gutted" but he is confident that he and the Citroen Abu Dhabi team can bounce back at Rally Great Britain this weekend.

The Irish driver had been on target to win his first World Rally Championship (WRC) event, which was based in Marmaris, when his car caught fire and he had to stop by the side of the road.

One moment he was leading, the next he was watching his Citroen C3 WRC smoulder and be left burnt out.

“I was glad it was on a road section and we could see what was happening and had time to get out and were not strapped in. I am absolutely gutted it happened,” Breen recalled. “It was heart-breaking to stand back and watch it burn.”

The positive for the 28 year old was that being in a victorious position, even though he missed out in the end as Ott Tanak took the win in his Toyota, continued the upward curve in his results in the WRC.

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Breen, who has been with Citroen Abu Dhabi since 2016, achieved his best result of his career earlier in the year in Sweden when he finished second in February.

He also has five other points finishes from the eight rallies he has competed in this season, and Turkey highlighted his and the team's progress he feels.

"The result was gutting, especially after leading,” said Breen. “But we have been setting fastest stage times on the last few rallies and put up a fight to win."

Citroen Abu Dhabi have announced this week that Sebastien Ogier, who has won the WRC title for the past five years, will return to the team he drove for in 2010 and 2011 next season.

Breen's future beyond the remaining three rallies of 2018 is not clear, with no news yet on whether he will be given a new contract to stay on with the team to race alongside Ogier.

But regardless of his fate, Breen still remains confident of his abilities to compete at the front.

“I still believe I can be world champion,” he adds. “If there was an element of doubt, I’d pull the plug and walk away."

Breen's best previous result at Rally Great Britain in six previous attempts is 13th in 2015 when he raced for the Sainteloc Junior Team.

Meanwhile, the attention will be on the title fight when the event, which takes place on gravel roads in Wales, gets underway on Thursday with the ceremonial start. The rally, consisting of 23 stages, ends on Sunday.

Thierry Neuville leads the standings in his Hyundai, 13 points ahead of Tanak, with Ogier a further 10 points adrift.

Following Rally Great Britain the remaining two rallies of the year are in Spain (October 25-28) and Australia (November 15-18).